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| 30 May 2016 | Reply

Directed by Jodie Foster
Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Money Monster poster

Great movies about corporate stock market fraud are few and far between, Wall Street and its sequel, and The Wolf Of Wall Street are the main ones which come to mind. Unfortunately Money Monster, whilst a good film, will not be joining those hallowed ranks, despite myriad reasons why it should have.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the host of a TV investment advice program, fond of gonzo stunts and arrogant hyperbole, whilst his director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is the very embodiment of conservatism.

Enter Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell): an edgy, gun-wielding, desperate man who has just lost everything when investment company Ibis shed eight hundred million dollars overnight due to what CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West) and his publicity manager Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe) calls a “computer glitch.”

Kyle wants answers, and first the clued-in Patty, then slowly the by-now-bomb-wearing Lee, realise the official answers don’t add up and race against the clock to find the truth before the cops shoot Kyle – or Lee – and Walt sweeps his wrong-doings under the carpet.

To start with, director Jodie Foster builds a good head of tension as she sets up the story and we see the pressures that led Kyle to these most extreme of actions. Then things start moving fast – too fast. The financial intricacies of the story are a little involved, and time is given to that at character development’s expense.

Lee goes from arrogant to scared to supportive in one unbelievable click of a finger, and a sub-plot making Walt and Dianne lovers is a waste of time, detracting from the story rather than adding anything at all to it. In her rush, Foster also squanders opportunities to use the New York populace watching the drama unfold on live television as a metaphor for celebrity culture worship; the behind-the-scenes potential for an expose of the hypocrisy of live television; and the sheep-like acceptance of corporate greed as the norm.

Roberts only takes control of her character in one or two short scenes – the rest of the time it could be any actress in the role, whilst West is dependable as the coldly amoral Cramby – but nothing more, and that’s a long cry from the Gordon Gecko charisma of Michael Douglas in Wall Street.

O’Connell’s performance as the loser at his wit’s end is impressive, whilst Lenny Venito steals scenes as Lenny the cameraman, carrying much of the movie’s humour.

What we’re left with is a good film, one which avoids some obvious clichés and a sugar-coated Hollywood ending, but isn’t sure whether it wants to be a thriller, a satire, or an expose. It could have been far more though.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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